Moalboal Weekend: Kickoff for 2012

Family of clown fish on anemone

Squeezing my second weekend this January, I met up with Angel in Cebu – not for the Sinulog Festival but for a dive in one of our favorite site in the south of the province.  Barely ten months ago, we were in Moalboal for the glorious sardines run.  But just a day before our trip, I learned that the sardine and threshers in Pescador Island are nowhere in sight.  It didn’t dampen our spirits though, it’s been four weeks since our last dive and we direly needed to be in the waters again.

Our friends in Moalboal welcomed us warmly, DM Geom of Cebu Dive Center and the Siggelkows of Moalboal Backpacker Lodge were so helpful and provided for our reservation needs. Torsten was in town and it’s good to see them both, the lodge is like home to us.  Arriving the dive center past 11am already, our dives were arranged all in the afternoon.  It was a blessing we catch up the van almost leaving for Moalboal when we got to the terminal.

Hardly a worm!

After a hurried lunch at the Chili Bar, we geared for our first dive.  Our guide Bebet dismissed Pescador, aside from the absence of the sardines, the waters could be choppy as it was afternoon already. The weather was perfect, the sun was not scorching and was somewhat shady.  Our first descent was at Talisay Point limiting our depth to 30 meters, unto a reef wall with overhangs and crevices. It houses variety of soft and hard corals, where macros carefully camouflaged for protection.  Coral crabs, cleaner shrimp on bubble coral, reef crab, clam digger on rubber coral.  We went inside a small cave and peek on holes for electric shell, with the torch light reflections it glowed in the dark.  The wall was decorated with anemones, maze coral, staghorns, and other branching corals.  Variety of anemone fish abound in the area, sighted also balloon corallimorph, sea fans in yellow, green and brown.  A shoal of shrimpfish decorated an overhang with whips and sea ferns.  We stayed longer on a wide coral area going around until we had our safety stop at five meters, still swimming around.  We made the ascent after 57 minutes.

Large gorgonians decorated the reef

Our boat went further west for Kasai for our next descent, and after a surface time of 55 minutes, we got back unto the waters and went down directly unto reef wall with active fish life decorated with a variety of colourful corals.  There were hawkfish, buttefly, angelfish, lionfish and nudis. I needed keen eyes for the macros – a blenny on a sandy area, worms and other invertebrates. A banded pipefish wiggled away from me to the corals.  We stayed most on a wide coral area again hopping around, a large green turtle graced us but swam fast away when other group of divers chased him around.  We found a puffer hiding in between coral branch, anthias hovering on corals were abundant, sea cucumbers, sea stars, worms, anemones, scorpion fish and many more.  We ascend after 50 minutes, the cold afternoon waters left us shivering.

Vibrant soft coral with coral crabs hiding

Although we planned for three dives, we dismissed the idea for a night dive.  Our brief escape in the town with two descents in its waters was a great way to quick start our dive pursuits for the year.  The mild sun on my skin and the sea air in my lungs revived my spirits, ready for waiting tasks back home.  There is always something different in every descent, new sightings and new learnings. It was our third visit but definitely not our last – that’s pure madness, I guess!

By then, I’m still in love with Moalboal sans the sardines run, but here’s hoping that they will be back in their home at Pescador, at the right time in the near future.

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